Electrocution on rural property kills two women

Tuesday, 26 February, 2019

Electrocution on rural property kills two women

Two women have died after coming into contact with an electric fence on a rural property in Queensland.

According to a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland incident alert, the mother and daughter were electrocuted after they contacted a length of electric fencing wire that was energised during the incident in December 2018.

The electric fencing wire was run from the bull bar of a truck to a tree stump on the property.

The incident alert said early investigations indicate that a damaged extension cord, which had an exposed section of copper wire, made the metal parts of the truck live at 240 VAC. This included the bull bar and a hook connected to electric fencing type wire. The extension cord was plugged into a socket outlet supplying the battery charger, charging the battery system inside the truck. The circuit was not protected by a safety switch (RCD), but by a re-wireable fuse using copper wire instead of correctly rated fuse wire. Investigations are continuing.

According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, electrical incidents on rural properties can often be caused by a failure to maintain electrical equipment as well as unlicensed electrical work. All rural workplaces have electrical risks and these risks increase if equipment is used in a wet environment or exposed to harsh wear. Electricity can also sometimes flow through objects which would normally be regarded as poor conductors, such as trees or machinery.

The incident alert said electrical risks include using:

  • plug-in electrical equipment in an unroofed area or wet area (such as a hose down area);
  • personally supported electrical equipment (handheld or carried) if the electricity supply cord is subject to flexing while the equipment is being used;
  • plug-in electrical equipment that is exposed to environmental factors (such as corrosive or other damaging dusts [like metal dust] or corrosive chemicals in the air) that cause abnormal wear or deterioration.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/mdennah

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